Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Just when you'd think things couldn't get any worse for LSU, they get worse.
Les Miles announced Monday night that starting senior guard Josh Dworaczyk has reaggravated a lingering knee injury from the 2010 season and will undergo surgery. Though the injury is not believed to be season-ending, Dworaczyk will miss the majority of the 2011 campaign.
"We'll lose him for some time," Miles said.
If there's any silver lining to Dworaczyk's absence, it's that the Tigers have at least one quality replacement and probably two. Miles said that Dworaczyk's spot would be filled by either senior T-Bob Hebert or true freshman La'el Collins--or, more likely, a combination of both. While Hebert is a veteran performer who's started 18 games the prior two seasons at both center and guard, Collins is a five-star recruit who's impressed throughout camp and whose potential Miles has done little to hide his enthusiasm for.
"I think you look at T-Bob, but I think a guy like La’el Collins has the ability," Miles said. "And we don’t want to slow him up. We want to get him to the field quickly."
Nonetheless, there seems little question that going from Dworaczyk to either replacement will be a step down of some degree. The senior's absence from Saturday's opener against Oregon will snap a streak of 23 consecutive starts at left guard, and though snubbed by the official SEC coaches and media preseason all-conference teams, Dworaczyk was named to guru Phil Steele's All-SEC second-team and various other lists of the league's best linemen.
That loss may be made all the worse by the other issues surrounding the Tiger offense. With both Jordan Jefferson and Russell Shepard suspended, LSU may have to rely even more heavily on their run game than expected--a run game a seasoned, talented guard like Dworaczyk would have helped immensely.
With Hebert and Collins around, it's doubtful Dworaczyk's injury will be a make-or-break issue for the Tigers. But the events of the past month means Miles no doubt would like all hands on deck, and now Dworaczyk represents one very polished, very steady set of hands that won't be.